THE TEXAS WESTERN MODEL RAILROAD CLUB
History and Background
A 501(c)3 Non-Profit Educational and Historical Organization
The Texas Western Model Railroad Club was formed in 1996 by a group of railroad modelers meeting in the spare warehouse area of Joe P. Williams Compressor Service at 6807 Anglin Drive, Fort Worth. This group of modelers had primarily been active in other modular-type railroad clubs in the area, but now they were looking for a permanent place to build a layout with excellent track, beautiful scenery, and prototypical operations. Through the interest and generosity of Joe Williams and his family, they were offered the use of the warehouse in which to build their 1/87th scale empire. The model railroad was begun with a membership of about 14 people and work was done on Thursday and Saturday meeting nights. A committee was formed to create a track plan that roughly approximated the Southwest area including Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas with Fort Worth being focused upon in particular. This track plan was created to emulate the prototypical daily operations of real railroads as they served the country in the 1950’s and to allow for interesting model operation sessions in the future. After only a few months, trains were running on limited track with minimal scenery, but they were running! Within a couple of years, this first room was approaching completion with 8’ high mountains, raging rivers, and long west Texas prairies for the trains to traverse in their voyages. At this time, the club again formulated additional track plans and moved into a larger room expanding the layout to a whopping 4,000 square feet! While this was one of the larger model railroads in the Southwest, the club’s gracious host, Joe Williams, added another 400 square feet of space in 2002 to accommodate the club’s version of Houston and its ports.
During this early time the Texas Western Model Railroad Club had been content to be a hobby and a source of pride for its members. However, the club soon found that visitors were overwhelmed by the scope and quality of the miniature railroad and marveled at the accurate, prototypical details that abounded throughout the layout. Visitors asked many questions about why the railroad did certain things and marveled at the re-creation of the Art Deco Texas & Pacific passenger station, freight station, and U.S. Post Office as well as many other buildings. Club members found themselves in the role of historians and educators during Open House events, explaining details about the importance that railroads played in the development of Fort Worth and the surrounding areas. It became apparent that many people were not aware of the contributions the railroads of the Twentieth Century made in our country. As a result of this revelation, the club decided in 2007 to pursue recognition of our organization as a non-profit educational and historical entity. We are currently listed in the State of Texas as a non-profit organization, and effective as of November 2006, were recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501(c)3 non-profit as well. We decided upon a Mission Statement to summarize our future endeavors:
“To construct and operate a prototypical miniature railroad preserving the historical significance of the American railroads in Texas, especially in the Southwest surrounding Fort Worth. This railroad will be utilized to educate the public and preserve the technology, operations, life styles, and impact of railroads as a transportation system and builder of the Southwest.”
After 17 years of building a beautiful layout, and following the untimely passing of our benefactor, Joe Williams, Joe P. Williams Compressor Service discontinued business, and Joe’s family was forced to place the property for sale, necessitating the club’s relocation. Fortunately, the City of Forest Hill recruited the club to stay in the area by offering the local Community Center for long term lease (25 years!) at a very affordable rate with the first option to purchase. The City has proven to be a dedicated partner in supporting the Club’s efforts to build a museum quality layout.
The club has already designed a new track plan for this building and started construction on the new layout. Members are excited about the expanded and more prototypical railroad operations it will offer. When completed, it will feature a fully operational Tower 55 as the center piece of the layout with true North/South and East/West operations. Much of the operations of the Texas & Pacific, MoPac, Santa Fe, Fort Worth & Denver, MKT, Frisco, Southern Pacific, and Frisco in and around Fort Worth, will be represented. The club will effectively model railroad operations from southern Oklahoma to Houston and from east Texas to Abilene. This railroad layout will be even better in many ways and offer true prototype operations in and around Tower 55. The future is very bright for the Texas Western Model Railroad Club indeed!